Friday, January 15, 2016

I Love the Maddow Blog

On days when I am so busy I barely have time to think or learn anything, I appreciate Rachel Maddow and the Maddow Blog on the MSNBC website. Some wonderful person, posts each of their articles to Facebook, and so at moments when I am breezing through peoples' pages, liking random things, I click on the Maddow Blog posts and it updates me on various things involving Democratic/Liberal/Progressive topics in the United States.

Ti hu tungo' hayi si Steven Benen, lao milagro gui gi lina'la'-hu. Kada diha mamange' gui' put kosas pulitikat gi sanlagu ginen i inatan Inakague pat Progressive. Fihu an guaha finaisen-hu put este na gayu pat ayu na gayu, umannok chaddek unu na tinige'-na gi i Maddow Blog, kalang esta ha tungo' hafa malago'-hu. 


Christie: Americans have a president ‘who we don’t know’

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) delivered a widely noticed speech in September 2011, condemning President Obama in a fairly specific way. “We continue to wait and hope that our president will finally stop being a bystander in the Oval Office,” the governor said. “We hope that he will shake off the paralysis that has made it impossible for him to take on the really big things.”
Even at the time, the rhetoric was bizarre, since Obama has spent his entire presidency taking on “really big things,” and more often than not, succeeding. But this week, Christie revised his entire perspective on the president, complaining Obama acts “as if he is a king, as if he is a dictator.”
I’ve long been amazed at the degree to which conservatives have contradictory complaints about the president, and this is emblematic of the pattern. Obama can be a hapless bystander, doing too little, or he can be a tyrannical dictator, doing too much, but he can’t be both.
On Monday, Christie went a little further. The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe noted this gem from the scandal-plagued governor:
“We have a guy in the Oval Office who we don’t know. He’s been serving us for seven years and we don’t know him.”
I suppose the obvious question for Christie is, “What do you mean ‘we’?” After all of these years, some of us have gotten to know and understand this president quite well. After a two-year national campaign in 2007 and 2008, an autobiography, and seven years of intense scrutiny in the White House in which his every move was analyzed from every direction, it’s hard to imagine the public knowing a stranger better than we know Barack Obama. There is no mystery about this “guy” is.
But that’s probably not where the governor is going with this.
The New Republic’s Jeet Heer noted the other day that Christie isn’t being literal, so much as he’s “pandering to GOP mythology.”
[Christie’s comments] partially echo long-held Republican complaints that Obama hasn’t been properly vetted. But they also play into the large set of tropes about Obama being alien, mysterious, un-American. As is his wont, Donald Trump proclaimed these themes more loudly when he suggested that Obama might have an ulterior motive (cough, cough, secret Muslim) for the deal he negotiated with Iran. “It’s almost like there has to be something else going on,” Trump said in a speech on Saturday night.
Like many of the other Republican candidates, Christie is trying to play the role of the thinking man’s Trump, and making a fool of himself in the process.
Agreed. When Christie tells Republican audience Americans don’t “know” the president, he’s dipping his toes into ugly waters. The governor must know better, and it’s a shame he appears to see this as necessary for his presidential ambitions.
Poll: US mainstream sides with Obama on guns
President Obama made clear last weekend that he was getting ready to announce some new reforms to gun policy, setting the stage for the latest round of a heated debate. On cue, Republicans screamed bloody murder, not only after learning of the White House plan, but also before they knew any details.
Call it an “anticipatory tantrum” – GOP politicians knew they were outraged, even before they knew why.
But if their goal was to persuade the public, the party failed miserably. Last night, CNN released the results of a new national poll.
The American public is broadly supportive of the executive actions issued by President Barack Obama this week aimed at increasing the reach of federal background checks for gun purchases and improving enforcement of existing laws. […]
A new CNN/ORC poll finds 67% say they favor the changes Obama announced, and 32% oppose them.
To be sure, there’s widespread skepticism that the administration’s policy will make a significant difference, but the public is nevertheless supportive of the effort itself. In fact, one of the key takeaways from this survey is how broad the backing is: most Democrats (85%), independents (65%), and Republicans (51%) favor Obama’s initiative. Most gun owners (57%) and rural residents (56%) are on board, too.
This doesn’t come as too big of a surprise, especially given polling from recent years showing roughly 90% of the public endorsing background checks on gun buyers.
In a polarized era in which partisans seem to agree on practically nothing, a rough, mainstream consensus has taken shape around this issue. The question is why this doesn’t create the conditions necessary for change.
As we discussed several months ago, the disconnect seems hard to reconcile at first blush. Politicians want to get re-elected, which generally means taking steps voters like, and yet Republicans are convinced that they’ll pay no price whatsoever for ignoring public will on curtailing gun violence – and if recent history is any guide, they’re probably correct.
The most straightforward explanation is that while so many polls are one-sided, what they don’t show is depth of commitment – voters like the idea of new safeguards in the abstract, but come Election Day, they have a series of priorities, and issues like background checks fade into the background. Democrats have persuaded the American mainstream on the merit of their ideas, but the second half of the battle is more complicated: making the transition from passive agreement to genuine passion for constructive change.
For his part, President Obama recently began pushing the idea of single-issue voting:
“[W]e’ve got to change the politics of this. And that requires people to feel – not just feel deeply – because I get a lot of letters after this happens. ‘Do something!’ Well, okay, here’s what you need to do.
“You have to make sure that anybody who you are voting for is on the right side of this issue. And if they’re not, even if they’re great on other stuff, for a couple of election cycles you’ve got to vote against them, and let them know precisely why you’re voting against them. And you just have to, for a while, be a single-issue voter because that’s what is happening on the other side.
“And that’s going to take some time. I mean, the NRA has had a good start. They’ve been at this a long time, they’ve perfected what they do. You’ve got to give them credit – they’re very effective, because they don’t represent the majority of the American people but they know how to stir up fear; they know how to stir up their base; they know how to raise money; they know how to scare politicians; they know how to organize campaigns. And the American people are going to have to match them in their sense of urgency if we’re actually going to stop this.”
To that end, the president wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, published today, in which he makes a notable vow about changing the politics: “Even as I continue to take every action possible as president, I will also take every action I can as a citizen. I will not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform. And if the 90 percent of Americans who do support common-sense gun reforms join me, we will elect the leadership we deserve.”

GOP governor under fire following racially charged comments

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), already facing possible impeachment in an abuse-of-power scandal, is no stranger to controversies involving race. Early on in his term, for example, the Republican governor got in a dispute with the Maine NAACP over his decision to skip events honoring Martin Luther King. In reference to the civil-rights group, LePage said, “Tell them to kiss my butt.”
Two years later, according to Republican attendees to a LePage gathering, the far-right governor complained that President Obama doesn’t emphasize his biracial heritage because the president “hates white people.” He later denied having made the comments.
This week, however, LePage went just a little further still. The Portland Press Herald reported on comments the governor made at a town-hall meeting on Wednesday night.
About 30 minutes into the meeting, which was rebroadcast Thursday night, LePage responded to a question about how he was tackling substance abuse in Maine. He began talking about how much of the heroin is coming into Maine from out-of-state drug dealers.
“These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty … these types of guys … they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home,” LePage told a large crowd. “Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”
By way of a defense, as Rachel noted on the show last night, the governor’s spokesperson said in a statement to reporters, “The governor is not making comments about race. Race is irrelevant.”
Look, I feel bad for anyone who has to defend Paul LePage’s rhetoric; it must be an unpleasant and incredibly difficult job.
But if the governor’s office expects to be taken seriously, pretending LePage wasn’t making comments about race only makes matters worse.
On camera, and in front of a large group of people, the governor said “D-Money” is coming into his state from elsewhere – Maine’s population is over 95% white – selling heroin, and impregnating “young, white” girls.
Are we really supposed to believe LePage’s unscripted comments had nothing to do with race?
The governor’s rhetoric, not surprisingly, generated national attention quite quickly, and last night, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign issued a statement condemning the remarks.
“Governor LePage’s comments tonight are not only offensive and hurtful but they try to cover up the very real epidemic of drug abuse facing people in his state and across the country,” Hillary for America’s Marlon Marshall said. “LePage’s racist rants sadly distract from efforts to address one of our nation’s most pressing problems…. Sadly, Governor LePage’s comments aren’t too dissimilar from the divisive, misleading and hateful rhetoric we’re seeing from Republicans across the country these days.”

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